Bushenyi women demand more access to land

Tea seedlings awaiting distribution in nursery bed in Ndorwa West, Kabale District. PHOTO BY GEOFFREY SSERUYANGE

What you need to know:

  • The group includes women from six tea growing regions of West Nile, Bunyoro, Tooro, Kigezi, Central and Ankole.

Women in the tea growing sector have asked government to solve issues of gender discrimination in accessing, controlling, and owning land.

During the launch of Women’s Chapter in Tea Uganda on Tuesday in Bushenyi, women said gender stereotypes on land have blocked their participation in the socio-economic transformation of the country.

The group includes women from six tea growing regions of West Nile, Bunyoro, Tooro, Kigezi, Central and Ankole.

Ms Julian Nyabuhara, a tea farmer from Bushenyi, and the interim chairperson for Women’s Chapter Tea Uganda, said there is need to embrace equity in agriculture in order to realise growth. 

“Land is the main factor in production but you find women in agriculture are at the mercy of their husbands. You cannot produce on your own even when you find a chance of accessing land. We see women handing over proceeds to their husbands for management,” Ms Catherine Katusabe, a tea farmer from Kyenjojo District and a woman representative at Uganda Tea Association (UTA), said.

She said there is need for intensive sensitisation to reduce cultural and legal barriers that stop women from accessing land.

“Access to financial services remains a challenge to the tea sector. When you go to financial institutions, they ask you for security, guarantors ...,” she said.

Ms Macklean Mutungi, a tea farmer from Mitooma, said gender stereotypes in leadership are limiting women’s potential  to fully participate in development.

“Why can’t we have equal representation on boards and management in the tea sector. I am the only woman in the Igara Tea Factory. The same with many others, we come to these boards as if they are sympathising with us. When they are going for business, it’s only men,” she said.

The Women’s Chapter in Tea Uganda pledged to intervene in the transformation of the sector.

They believe inclusion will be key in improving tea quality and fetching better prices on the regional market, growing the tea-cottage industry, afforestation and access to finance through savings to widen their capital base and push towards a national tea policy.

The chairperson of Women in Tea from Zombo, Ms Jane Evelyne Othora, said coming up with a cottage industry sector drive will not only ensure quality but also bring in more women in the sector.

Bushenyi District chairperson Jaffar Basajabalaba, said women are better placed to spearhead social-economic transformation if empowered.

“If you look at the programmes the government has come up with to eradicate poverty, the Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Programme (UWEP) has performed, its visibility on the ground and recovery of the funds is good compared to other programmes involving men. We need to support them, especially on access to financing and land,” he said.